Pierce County authorities have concluded that a county Sheriff Department deputy acted properly when he shot and killed a motorist on State Route 702 last October.
Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist said the death of Wayne E. Craddock, 50, was a justifiable homicide.
“Mr. Craddock pointed a handgun at the deputy,” said Lindquist. “His actions at the time of the shooting, as well as prior to the shooting, indicate another sad case of suicide-by-cop.”
Lindquist made his comments last week following independent investigations by his office, the medical examiner and the Sheriff Department into the incident involving deputy Martin Zurfluh.
On Oct. 12, Craddock, a Yelm resident, was driving a truck westbound on SR-702 near the intersection of 64th Avenue South when he drew the attention of Zurfluh, who checked records and learned Craddock was the owner of the truck and that his driver license was suspended.
Zurfluh stopped the truck and ordered Craddock to out of it. Craddock initially complied, then abruptly got back into the truck. He was agitated and verbally aggressive, the deputy reported.
Authorities said Zurfluh spoke to Craddock from a safe distance, asking him to calm down. Instead, Craddock got out of his vehicle and pointed a handgun toward Zurfluh. The deputy, fearing for his own safety, fired his weapon several times, striking Craddock in the head and upper body. Craddock fell to the ground and was died dead at the scene from the gunshot wounds, authorities said.
Detectives later found a fully loaded .45-caliber handgun near Craddock’s body.
Authorities also said:
• Before the shooting, a witness at the scene heard the deputy say, “’Come on now, buddy. You don’t want to do this.’”
• Other witnesses indicated that they had spoken with Craddock earlier in the day and Craddock complained about his financial situation, appeared upset, and said, “’I’ve had it. If I get pulled over, I’ve got my gun. This is it.’”
According to the medical examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, Craddock was intoxicated at the time of his death.